Driving home from my in-laws a few weeks ago Cole asked the question, “Where are all the goats?”
Now, this might seem a common question if you regularly pass by a farm or a field where you see the the odd grazer. But we were driving through the buzzing metropolis of Mtubatuba. (Okay, slight exaggeration. Mtuba has one stop sign and one petrol (gas) station and its claim to fame is that Brad Pitt visited for an AIDS project as it has one of the highest infection rates in the world… but I digress) When Cole was worried about the missing goats it was because there are normally a dozen or so goats standing around tied to trees ready to be purchased for the latest celebration of lobola (marriage dowry), wedding or even to slaughter for a funeral. But today there were no goats to be bought and Cole –our animal lover- was distraught!
I decided it might not be a good idea to stroll down the street to look at the local market where the sangomas (witch doctors) go to buy their ingredients to make their muti (traditional medicine) in case we find remnants of the goats in question. You will, however, find ingredients such as animal livers, monkey tails, hair from a baboon, etc. for your latest soup to make your secret crush fall in love with you.
It’s experiences like these when I wonder, how will my boys adjust to living back in the States again? I’ve had to learn the different vocab for simple kid games like catch. Instead of “You’re it!” you say, “You’re on!” and “You can’t (pronounced caahhhn’t) tag me, I’m in DEN” den=base. I’ve almost forgotten that it isn’t common to have kids shout out, “Mum! The monkeys are in our kitchen again!”
And children running around the shopping centers, libraries and schools without shoes is expected. Last time we were in the States my eldest warned his American friend not to go too close to the lake because there are hippos and crocodiles! I didn’t have the heart to tell him the only thing in there is a pretty little rainbow trout or maybe a couple of bullfrogs!
It’s not just their experiences…it’s their accents. It now sounds normal when they tell me, “Mum, you mustn’t rush to drop us at school-jaaa, we will be there just now. Not to worry” or “Mum, don’t forget my tackies in my gym kit, hey!” not to forget “I only like marmite saarmies with cheese, not bovril!”
Though they were both born in the USA, it seems I’m raising two true South Africans.